Youth boss Eric Kinder took charge of his first pre-season friendly as the youth team travelled to Morecambe on Tuesday, and we caught up with his shortly after the 4-3 victory.
“We called Saturday’s game against Gretna off for the right reasons, because after today’s game against Morecambe we had four of the first years feeling niggles," he explained. "They’re going to get that because they’ve trained hard for two weeks. The pitch was lively, as they always are at this stage of the season, so the decision not to play at Gretna was justified after seeing them today.
“We had a bit of a shaky start, but in the second half especially I thought we played very well. Morecambe have changed since I last went down there, they used to bring people in from Morecambe college which made it difficult, but they’re now bringing players in from London, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool so they were a lot stronger outfit.
“We took our time to get going as I expected. It was our first game and we’re a week behind Morecambe who played Preston last weekend. I’m not making excuses, but we had four second years who stayed here to be involved in the Hibs game which is great for them. I have no problems with that, but we went down with a very young side, and we looked young at the start of the game."
“We didn’t get to grips with the game and we found ourselves 2-0 down early on after two poor defensive mistakes," he continued. "They were defensive mistakes we can work on and can be put right on the training pitch, which is the good thing to come out of games at this stage of pre-season.
“Josh Galloway got us back to 2-2 with two penalties and they were both clear-cut. The first was a challenge which was a ridiculous thigh-high tackle and Josh stuck it away. The second was a blatant handball which got us back to 2-2. We then got a third penalty when their defender lost our man from a corner and just dragged him down. Kyle Soper took that penalty and put us 3-2 up.
“Lewis Rooks did well to follow up a shot which got a rebound to put us 4-2 up and we then played really well in the second half. They made some mistakes, as they will do, and there’s no problem with that. There was a problem with their third goal, they got a free kick which they took quickly to the unmarked striker on the penalty spot while our lads were still deciding whether to put a wall up and who to mark. All three goals we conceded can be put right on the training pitch."
“There were certain things I saw in the game that weren’t to my liking and weren’t to my style but we’ll put those right," he said. "We took 17 players and kept mixing and matching, so it was never going to be fluent, we just want game time for them. The result doesn’t really matter, but it will give the lads a lift. They’ll be more worried about me than I am about them at this stage, and we were happy with them."
“Some of our lads are getting to train with the first team on a daily basis which is a massive advantage for them," he told us. "First team football is a hell of a lot faster, and if they don’t get first team experience, then when the time comes for them to step up, it’s near enough impossible if they haven’t done it, especially because we haven’t got an U23 side.
“I’ve known the manager for two weeks and he’s come across so helpful which is a massive relief for a youth team coach. He’s told me he’ll leave me alone, he just wants me to tell him who is doing well and he’ll take them for training. All you can ask for is support from your first team manager, and if you get that the job is so much easier.
“I don’t know if the group are where I wanted them to be because I didn’t really know what to expect. I was talking to Mark [Birch] about this today, it’s been nearly six years since I’ve been involved in U18 football and you tend to forget what the level is like. I don’t know if I’m being very critical because they’re not to a level that I want them to be, or if six years has gone by and I expect too much from U18 football. It will come back to me quickly.
“I was pleased with them today once we’d got the first 20 minutes out the way. The way they came back and applied themselves was good to see. We had the best and the second best players on the pitch, and I won’t say who those players were because I don’t want to single anybody out at this stage, but I’m quite happy coming off after a game knowing we’ve had the two best players on the pitch.”
United v Morecambe first half – Robinson, Barnes, Wilson, Fawcett, Leslie, Galloway, Swailes, Foreman, Bell, Soper, Paul.
Second half – McLachlan, Steele, Lightfoot, Day, Leslie, Galloway, Walton, Foreman, Bell, Paul, Rooks.